CBS is a bit harder for me. As you’ve seen so far, I have a negative slant toward cop procedurals and lawyer shows, and this network’s very being thrives on those types of themes. It’s what the live viewing public wants, which is why CBS is number one. So, with this network, I have to look beyond the “cop procedural” moniker and give more weight to who stars in it. I mean after all, “Blue Bloods” is a procedural, but the only thing that makes that a better show than others is Tom Selleck. I could watch that man for a lifetime.
The thing that interests me is CBS has 23 pilots and maybe about three open timeslots. It’s the price of success. Chances are very good “CSI:NY” has met it’s end, “Vegas” is looking shaky and programming a stronger lineup on Sundays will be difficult considering football overruns always muck up the works. There’s always room for a couple more comedies, but CBS has found reruns of their procedurals works very well. I know my elderly parents, avid tiffany network watchers, want their same shows in the same slot year round, reruns or not. However, considering they’re hardly in anyone’s core demographic, maybe CBS will buck that trend. Or maybe not.
I have to admit, out of all the networks so far, I’m most impressed with the CBS pilot lineup overall. Here’s the look at dramas and comedies from most promising to least promising, based solely on description and cast lists. As with the look at other networks, all pilot descriptions come from the most informative, completely wonderful The Futon Critic.
There are 11 dramas in the CBS pilot program this year. I do like the variety, even though most still scream procedural.
Bound to be an instant hit or spectacular flop:
- Beverly Hills Cop – This was a huge franchise, in the 1980’s. The idea has merit, passing a dusty and warped torch to the new generation. Hey, it’s worked for Dallas but that was always setup to be a generational show. Here, it’s Axel Foley’s son. So is he a Detroit cop like his dad or a Beverly Hills Cop? Plus, why did they decide to go with this aged premise compared to the numerous other choices in the vaults out there? This idea would fail big time on a network like NBC, but given the older viewing audience of CBS, it could work. At least is sounds better to me than Ironside. “Drama which continues the film franchise with Axel Foley’s (Eddie Murphy) son Aaron (Brandon T. Jackson) following in his father’s footsteps, taking down the criminal elements of the rich and famous in Beverly Hills.”
- Intelligence – I know, this is coming from the network that doesn’t do Sci-Fi all that well, but I love the premise and the fact that Josh Holloway (Lost) is in the cast earns an instant trial from me. It still reads procedural, but if Person of Interest has proved anything, it is possible to mix serial and procedural and produce something damned entertaining. “Drama about a man gifted and cursed with a top-secret experimental microchip implanted in his brain that makes him computer-like in the way he sees and processes information.”
- Reckless – There’s no cast, but this has Remington Steele type potential. I loved Remington Steele. This can easily flop though if the right cast members aren’t picked. Chemistry is everything. I love the setting too. “Charleston-set drama about two adversaries, a gorgeous Yankee litigator and a Southern city attorney, who struggle to hide their attraction while clashing over a police sex scandal that threatens to implode the city.”
- Second Sight – The premise has potential, but Jason Lee has been cast as the lead. That’s good enough for me! Having Carol Mendelsohn attached to the project doesn’t hurt either. “Drama based on the U.K. series about a New Orleans detective suffering from Azoors Syndrome, an ocular eye disorder that saddles him with regular hallucinations but also opens up his subconscious in a way that aids his job.”
- The Surgeon General – If this is done right, it has The West Wing potential. Last I looked, the Surgeon General isn’t a crime fighter so this could be a great political drama. Still, Jason Isaacs isn’t exactly a household name. I’d feel better if Aaron Sorkin was attached to this one. Still, it has a fighting chance based on potential alone. “Medical drama about a fictional Surgeon General who, alongside his team, battle the powerful forces of politics and business, fighting to protect the health of everyday Americans.”
- The Advocates –CBS already has a show like this. It’s called Person of Interest. It’s going to have to match that high caliber to succeed. “Drama about a female lawyer and a male ex-con who team up as victim advocates, going to the edge of the law to right wrongs and fight for the underdog.”
- The Anatomy of Violence –Why is this reading like Criminal Minds? Quite frankly though, any show can do better than that one creatively. I’m still putting this is least promising because there’s no recognizable cast yet and the description is as dry as toast. “Drama about a female FBI agent who starts working with a mysterious psychiatrist with whom she shares a past connection.”
- Backstrom – This one could easily move to most promising, especially since it comes from Hart Hanson. However, there no cast yet and this description tells us nothing. “Drama featuring Leif G.W. Persson’s literary hero, homicide detective/equal-opportunity misanthrope Evert Backstrom.”
- Hostages –They lost me at Jerry Bruckheimer. Dylan McDermott too. “Drama based on the Israeli series “Bnei Aruba” about a successful surgeon who is selected to operate on the President, only to be told she must kill him after her family is taken hostage.”
- The Ordained– I don’t know why having “Kennedy” in the synopsis is such a sell with people, but this sounds awful to me. Considering the unknown cast as well, I don’t hold out hope for this one making the cut. “Drama about the son of a Kennedy-esque family who leaves the priesthood and becomes a lawyer to prevent his politician sister from being assassinated.”
- Untitled NCIS:Los Angeles Spinoff Project– Besides the fact it’s untitled, why would you do a spinoff project from a spinoff? Especially the weaker of the two NCIS franchises? This network ain’t that desperate. “Planted spin-off of the “NCIS” franchise which will follow a small mobile team of agents, who are forced to live and work together, as they crisscross the country solving crimes.”
I’m stunned by the number of single camera comedies on this list this year. This isn’t exactly CBS’ wheelhouse. I applaud them for trying to be bold, but some of these just don’t fly.
A Sure Thing:
- Mom – This project has everything going for it. It’s Chuck Lorre, who can’t lose on this network. He’s booked the absolutely brilliant Allison Janney, Anna Faris as the single mom, and there’s a deep ensemble in the cast list which always adds promise to comedies. French Stewart, Matt Jones, Spencer Daniels, and Nate Corddry all stand out for me. The pilot would really have to suck for this not to get picked up. “Multi-camera comedy about a newly sober single mom who tries to pull her life together as a waitress in Napa Valley.”
The Crazy Ones –Not enough about this project jumps out at me.
Even the cast isn’t very well known.(Updated, it’s Robin Williams!!! Mark this as a sure thing). However, it’s Bill D’Elia, who proved he could be different with Boston Legal and Harry’s Law and this time he’s finally found the right network for his core audience. Could work on Fridays. “Single-camera comedy about the brilliant – but slightly out of his mind – head of an advertising agency and his daughter/creative director who’s tasked with keeping him in check.”
- Ex Men –I was ready to throw this in the stinker pile, and then I saw the cast. Jerry O’Connell, Kal Penn, and Tony Shahloub? Wow, that’s a lineup. Let’s hope it’s written right. The single camera thing is still a stretch for CBS though. “Single-camera comedy about a newly single guy who is taken under the wing of a group of more experienced guys at his short-term rental complex.”
- Jacked Up –Given the fact that Patrick Warburton is in the lead, I’d say that Rules of Engagement is gone. This better be written right, because you won’t get a better lead male for this role than Patrick Warburton. It’s inspired casting. “Multi-camera comedy about a beloved, recently retired baseball player who finds that adjusting to retirement isn’t as easy as he thought it’d be.”
- Super Clyde –Created by Greg Garcia, and Rupert Grint is coming to television! A double win for me. “Single-camera comedy about a meek, unassuming fast food worker who decides to become a super hero.”
- Bad Teacher – The only guaranteed success of this was if Cameron Diaz was actually casted in the lead. I don’t think this premise has TV series potential. Plus, CBS should really stick to their strengths in multi-camera comedies. “Single-camera comedy based on the Cameron Diaz-led feature about a foul-mouthed, gold-digging junior high school teacher.”
- Friend With Better Lives –I’m not sure why this is a group of men, yet only one cast member is listed. James Van Der Beek doesn’t seem like the actor to sell this premise either. “Multi-camera comedy about a group of 35-year-old friends who each think that the other has it better.”
- Gaffigan –This is a comedy? Sounds kind of sad. I do like the casting of Mia Sorvino though, but I don’t think it’ll be enough. “Single-camera comedy about a guy who lives with his wife and five kids in a New York two-bedroom apartment.”
- The McCarthy’s –I don’t see CBS pulling this off. “Single-camera comedy about an Irish-Catholic, sports-crazed Boston clan and their gay son whose greatest sin is not his sexuality but his desire to spend less time with his family.”
- Mother’s Day –No cast, and a vague premise. Next! “Single-camera comedy based on the Israeli format about a 40-year-old mother of three who constantly lies to keep up with the demands of work, home and family.
- Untitled Greg Garcia project –Untitled, and sounds like Mr. Garcia will be too busy with Super Clyde. “Multi-camera comedy about a recently divorced man whose life is complicated when his parents decide to move in with him.”
- Untitled Tad Quill project –Who’s Tad Quill? He needs to title his project. Sounds too generic for my tastes. “Multi-camera comedy about a widower father who raises his 12-year-old son while jumping back into the dating pool.”
Coming up next, last and probably the least, The CW.